Fiber reinforced thermosetting composite materials have been used for more than 50 years and the Sheet Molding Compound (SMC) process has proven to be one of the most versatile production methods due to the combination of low waste production and high volume capability with design freedom and integration of functions. Today, the industry’s demand on performance is increasing while high volume applications still require a cost competitive process. Cost issues have prohibited a wide-spread use of Carbon Fiber (CF) SMC in the industry. To enlarge the use of CF, Zoltek has developed a 50k large tow, low cost CF that can be opened up in the SMC process to reach small tow CF performance, as shown by Astar, that is running a self-designed CF-SMC production line with a capacity of 5000 tons per year. AOC has developed resin systems called Daron® that combine high mechanical performance with the ease of processing that SMC users are accustomed with such as thickening and storage under ambient conditions. Due to the low viscous nature of Daron® resins, the fine filament bundles of the opened-up CF can be impregnated well up to high volume fractions. Furthermore, as the Daron® resins adheres very well to the CF, the resulting mechanical properties of the parts are very high. The combination of Zoltek’s split tow fiber, the opening up of the fiber by Astar and the Daron® resin from AOC results in one of the best CF-SMC’s in the market in terms of performance/cost ratio.

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